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The most common way art is stolen

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The Islamic State readies for the “War of the Cross”

From Alakhbar English, by Radwan Mortada

The Islamic State (IS) is getting ready for the US military strike. In principle, it is “the Caliphate state. Its defenders will not run away. Islamic duty requires soldiers to defend the land of Muslims in the face of invaders, not run away and hide.” Tactically, slogans are absent. IS fighters are redeploying in preparation for what they call the “War of the Cross.” The strategy of resistance is varied but the objective is one – “to remain steadfast as long as possible.”

Although IS sources admit that it is impossible for their military equipment to stand in the face of the West’s airborne arsenal, they speak of a “strategy of resistance that the Crusaders have no capacity for.”
“The Hour (of Resurrection) will not come until the Byzantines land in al-Amaq (valleys in Antioch, southern Turkey) or in Dabiq.” This is a Hadith (saying) of the Prophet Mohammad that jihadis are repeating frequently these days. Dabiq is a Syrian village located to the north of Aleppo where, they believe, a great battle is going to take place, which the Muslims will win in the end. According to their interpretation, the Byzantines represent the “Crusader West.”

Based on this Hadith, followers of the IS conclude that the confrontation will begin with a US strike which will pave the way for this battle. For them, it is “an inevitable divine promise that will prove to the world that we are the masters of the State and builders of the end of time Caliphate.” What confirms their deeply-rooted belief in this prophecy is the English-language magazine they began issuing months ago called Dabiq… The Return of Khilafah.

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Opponents say Obama will need ground troops against ISIS

Chris Carroll, Start and Stripes

Conservatives pushed back Thursday against President Barack Obama’s contention that the United States can stabilize Iraq without committing U.S. troops to a ground combat role in the country.

In a speech to the nation Wednesday night, Obama outlined a strategy that called for increased U.S. air attacks in support of Iraqi forces, coupled with increased training of the Iraqi military. The president said 475 additional troops would be sent to support the more than 1,000 others already on the ground in noncombat roles.

The chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, Rep. Buck McKeon, R-Calif., dismissed what he called Obama “minimalist” plan to the defeat Islamic State insurgents with the focus on air power. McKeon predicted that even in an advisory role, U.S. troops would likely need to do more, including fighting alongside Iraqi units, helping them with logistics and communications, and aiding in holding ground taken from the Islamic State, group also known by the acronyms ISIL and ISIS.

“American boots will be standing on sand. Americans will be shot at, and they will be shooting back,” McKeon said in prepared remarks to an audience at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative Washington think tank. “There’s simply no other way to do this.”

He noted that U.S. reliance on airpower alone in the NATO campaign against the late Moammar Gadhafi had failed to bring stability once the Libyan leader was gone.

“We tried that in Libya, and it hasn’t worked,” he said.

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Critical Reading from Andrew McCarthy

A Mismanage-able Problem
Obama’s belief that he can “manage” the Islamic State may collide with reality.
By Andrew C. McCarthy

President Obama says he intends to shrink the al-Qaeda-spawned Islamic State into a “manageable problem.” Perhaps we’ll learn more about how when he speaks to the nation on Wednesday evening. Still, the question presses: Is he the manager for the job?

In answering that question, past performance is more a guarantee of future results than is any statement of newfound purpose from a president whose innate dishonesty has turned his signature phrase “Let me be clear” into notorious self-parody.

In late September 2012, Mr. Obama’s administration quietly approved the transfer of 55 jihadist prisoners out of the Guantanamo Bay detention center. As Tom Joscelyn explained at the time, most of the detainees had previously been categorized as “high risk” because they were deemed “likely to pose a threat to the US, its interests, and allies” if released. Almost all of the rest had been assessed “medium risk” — still posing a threat, albeit one less certain than the “high risk” jihadists.

But Obama officials overruled those judgments. Rife with members of the Lawyer Left vanguard who had stampeded to volunteer their services to al-Qaeda detainees during the Bush years, who had smeared Gitmo as a gulag, and who had fought bitterly against the Bush/Cheney paradigm that regarded al-Qaeda’s jihad as a war rather than a crime wave, the administration determined that the anti-American terrorists were fit to be sprung from American custody.

Wait a second . . . two years ago in September . . . what was going on then? Why yes, the Benghazi massacre — whose second anniversary we mark this Thursday.

The Obama administration would like us to forget that bit of old news since “dude, this was like two years ago.” You may nonetheless recall it as an act of war in which al-Qaeda-affiliated jihadists attacked a sovereign American government compound. The terrorists murdered our ambassador to Libya, killed three other Americans, and wounded many more in an eight-hour siege during which President Obama declined to take any meaningful responsive action. Indeed, agents of the U.S. security team in Benghazi say they were prevented from trying to save Ambassador Stevens.

Among those carrying out the attack were operatives of Ansar al-Sharia. That’s the al-Qaeda affiliate with cells in Eastern Libya’s jihadist hotbeds, Benghazi and Derna. Ansar is led by Sufian Ben Qumu, a former Gitmo detainee who, inexorably, went right back to the jihad.

News of Obama’s approval of the mass transfer of Gitmo detainees came less than two weeks after the Benghazi massacre. Let that sink in: The Obama administration knew that a former Gitmo detainee was complicit in the most humiliating defeat suffered by the United States since the 9/11 attacks that took the nation to war; yet, the president approved the transfer of dozens more Gitmo terrorists. Just as, only a few months ago, he approved the transfer of five top Taliban commanders even as the Taliban was (and is) continuing to conduct terrorist operations against American troops in Afghanistan.

Shocking, yes, but how surprising from Barack Obama? Mind you, this is the president who, though AWOL (and still unaccountable) while terrorists were killing and wounding American personnel in Benghazi, had the temerity not just to fly off to a Vegas fundraiser the very next day but to pick that setting, and that moment, to declare victory: “A day after 9/11, we are reminded that a new tower rises above the New York skyline, but al-Qaeda is on the path to defeat and bin Laden is dead.”

Yes, bin Laden is dead. But the terrorist hordes chanted, “Obama, we’re all Osama!” as they torched our embassies and raised the black flag of jihad — the flag the Islamic State vows to fly over the White House. And just two days after Obama’s “Mission Accomplished” fundraiser, Ansar al-Sharia’s Tunis cell attacked the American embassy there. That al-Qaeda franchise is led by Seifallah ben Hassine, long-time jihadist confidant of bin Laden and his successor, Ayman al-Zawahiri. Some path to defeat.

Of course, the Benghazi massacre would never have happened had Obama not switched sides in Libya, dumping the Qaddafi regime — theretofore an American counterterrorism ally — and partnering with Eastern Libyan jihadists. The president’s strategy ensured that enemies of the United States would acquire much of Qaddafi’s arsenal, empowering jihadist cells throughout North Africa and the Middle East, growing al-Qaeda and what would become the Islamic State. And as we have seen in just the last few weeks, Obama’s “lead the jihad from behind” strategy has resulted in the near complete disintegration of Libya, with Ansar al-Sharia and its allies now controlling much of Tripoli.

Nor is that all. Hours before the Benghazi attack began on September 11, 2012, there had been rioting at the American embassy in Cairo. It was stoked by al-Qaeda leaders — including Zawahiri’s brother, Mohammed. The latter had called for attacks against the United States to avenge the recent killing of the network’s leader in Libya. The al-Qaeda leaders had also been threatening to besiege the embassy to extort the release of the Blind Sheikh, Omar Abdel Rahman, imprisoned in the U.S. on terrorism charges. These jihadists had been enabled in their incitements against America by the Muslim Brotherhood–controlled government — a government the Obama administration had pressured Egypt’s military leaders to make way for.

When the Left says it intends to make the challenge of international terrorism “manageable,” that is usually code for saying it wants to return counterterrorism to the law-enforcement paradigm, in which terrorism is a crime addressed by indictments. Crime — petty theft, graft, racketeering, and the like — is a constant that society manages. National-security threats, on the other hand, cannot be indicted into submission. And they are not “managed” by imagining that if we ignore them they will go away.

President Obama probably does believe the Islamic State could become a manageable problem. Unfortunately, he also believes that when his ideology collides with reality, it is reality that must give. Reality does not see it that way.

— Andrew C. McCarthy is a policy fellow at the National Review Institute. His latest book, Faithless Execution: Building the Political Case for Obama’s Impeachment, was released by Encounter Books on June 3.

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ISIS is ‘rapidly developing a method of blowing up a major US city,’ senator warns

A U.S. senator warned on Thursday that ISIS, the militant terror group sweeping across Iraq, aims to destroy an American population center and is working on a plan to do it.

‘They’re crazy out there and they’re rapidly developing a method of blowing up a major U.S. city and people just can’t believe that’s happening,’ Republican Sen. Jim Inhofe told the Fox-25 television in Oklahoma City.

Inhofe, the ranking GOP member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, warned that leaders of ISIS ‘are really bad terrorists. They’re so bad even al-Qaeda is afraid of them.’

Rep. Jim Bridenstine, a fellow Oklahoma Republican and a committee member, told the Tulsa World that ISIS Islamists are ‘cutting children’s bodies in half. They’re shooting them. I’ve never seen anything like it.’ 

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Dutch News: Jail for Kunsthal painting ringleader

Good news regarding stiff sentences for the Kunsthal thieves. I wish that they could have received more time, however, based on their refusal to provide information about the current whereabouts of all of the works, since the idea that they were burned is actually still up in the air (according to some press reports and a source of mine in Romania). Furthermore, the fine for the man who attempted to fence the art is astonishingly low, making his misdeed almost a smart bet for someone who was asked to move millions in stolen art.

The main suspect in the Rotterdam Kunsthal art robbery has been jailed for six years eight months, by a court in Bucharest on Monday.

 

The sentence for Romanian national Adrian P, who has not admitted his role in the robbery, is in line with that handed down to the other two main defendants last year. The sentences are now definitive and there is no right of appeal, news agency ANP said.

 

The defendants have also been ordered to pay €18.1m in compensation for the theft, which is said to be the value of the stolen works.

 

The mother of one of the suspects, who says she burnt several of the paintings in the stove at her home, was jailed for two years. She later retracted that statement.

A sixth suspect, who tried to fence the stolen work, was fined the equivalent of €10,000.

 

The seven paintings, which include works by Monet, Picasso and Gauguin were stolen in October 2012. Their whereabouts is still unknown.

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DHS Struggles with Intelligence & Analysis Capabilities

By Amber Corrin, Federal Times

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) continues to struggle with prioritizing its strategies, despite having created systems for integrating analytic and intelligence activities, said a recent report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO). DHS’ existing intelligence framework is not effective, said the report, and fails to create “strategic departmental intelligence priorities” that would guide annual planning decisions. This has resulted in managers in DHS’ Office of Intelligence and Analysis (I&A) having difficulties developing strategic and tactical priorities for specific operations, the report found. The GAO report did say that the efforts to integrate analysis within DHS offices has helped to a degree, as they have allowed intelligence officials to coordinate component activities and prevent any duplication of implementation efforts or unnecessary overlap. I&A continues to have difficulties recruiting and hiring analysts, however, and has not made progress in using existing mechanisms to improve its workforce difficulties. The report noted that the mechanisms will help I&A evaluate whether its efforts are succeeding at achieving goals such as improving recruiting and hiring, improving morale, and reducing turnover. DHS agreed with the recommendations the GAO made for addressing these issues.
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